clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What is the impact of trading Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to the Atlanta Braves for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden on the St. Louis Cardinals roster and payroll?

The Cardinals' win-now trade increases payroll in 2015.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals traded starting pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins to the Atlanta Braves on Monday in exchange for right fielder Jason Heyward and righthanded reliever Jordan Walden. Adding Heyward to the roster solidifies right field for the Cardinals in 2015, a position that was turned into a question mark after the death of 22-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras, and acquiring Walden gives St. Louis a righthanded setup man to replace departing free agent Pat Neshek. Trading Miller away creates an opening in the starting rotation that will most likely be filled by one of two young pitchers, righty Carlos Martinez or southpaw Marco Gonzales.

Adding Heyward and Walden in exchange for Miller and Jenkins, a minor-leaguer not yet on the MLB roster, creates a bump in the Redbirds' payroll for next season.

  • Heyward is only under the Cardinals' control for 2015, what would be his third year of salary arbitration. Before 2014, Heyward and the Braves signed a two-year deal that set in stone his salary for his final two arbitration-eligible seasons (just like the Cards and Jason Motte did prior to the 2012 season). After 2015, Heyward has the right under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that governs MLB labor relations to become a free agent.
  • Walden is entering his second season of salary-arbitration eligibility under the CBA, meaning he is under St. Louis's control through 2016.
  • In 2015, Miller will be only eligible for the league minimum. He is set to become arbitration eligible after the 2015 season and a free agent after the 2018 season.
  • Jenkins has yet to earn money on a major-league contract, so the Braves will have him under club control for at least six (and likely seven) years.
In essence, the Cardinals traded four years of Miller and six (if not seven) years of Jenkins for one year of Heyward and two years of Walden.

MLB Trade Rumors has developed a model for predicting arbitration-eligible players' salaries. MLBTR projects Walden to earn $3 million in 2015. Under the terms of Heyward's contract, he will earn a base salary of $7.8 million with the following escalators based upon 2014 benchmarks, per ESPN:
The 2015 salary would escalate based on a points system for 2014 accomplishments, going up $500,000 for 20 points and then by $25,000 for each additional point. Heyward would earn 10 points each for 502 plate appearances, All-Star Game selection, a Gold Glove award, a Silver Slugger award and finishing 11th-to-20th in MVP voting. He would receive 15 points for 6th-to-10th in MVP, 25 points for third-to-fifth and 35 points for first or second.
Heyward tallied 649 plate appearances in 2014, so there's 10 ponts. He also won a Gold Glove last season, so that bumps up the points total under the contract's escalating provisions to 20. So Heyward will earn $8.3 million in 2015.

Under the terms of the CBA, MLB clubs need only pay players the league minimum during their first three seasons of MLB service time. However, teams have the discretion to pay players more than that. The Cardinals do this and increase league-minimum-eligible players' salaries based on MLB service time. For example, in 2014, rookie Kolten Wong made $500,000 while Lance Lynn earned $535,000. Miller's 2014 salary was $521,000 and it likely would've been between $535,000 and $550,000 in 2015 had he remained a Cardinal.

After subtracting Miller's $500,000+, the Cardinals' 2015 payroll will go up by around $10.8 million in 2015 after the trade. DeWallet has been opened, just like ownership and Mozeliak have indicated it would be during interviews this offseason.

Of course, this presupposes that the Cardinals do not ink Heyward to an extension, which is something general manager John Mozeliak seemingly wants to do.

But that is a post for another day.

There is a ripple effect to the Cardinals' roster moves over the last couple of weeks. The signing of infielder Dean Anna, which Joe analyzed, might mean the end of Daniel Descalso's tenure with the Cardinals, as Craig broke down. On Monday, Mozeliak expanded a bit further, as reported by Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly, stating that the Cardinals have called an audible and, given the roster's current makeup, may non-tender one or two arbitration-eligible players from a group that includes Descalso, Shane Robinson, Tony Cruz, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay, and Lance Lynn.

This updated roster matrix has two new members of the 25-man, which makes the bench and bullpen a bit more crowded. Keep in mind that the arbitration-eligible Cardinals, highlighted in yellow, stand a chance to be cut loose by the club via non-tender, which would deny them arbitration and a guaranteed major-league contract with St. Louis.

Given the unclear picture regarding the bench, starting rotation, and bullpen (including eternal question mark Jaime Garcia), there are more players on the roster matrix than 25. The roster matrix will likely gain clarity when the Cardinals make their decisions on whether or not to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Also keep in mind that Mozeliak has indicated that the Cardinals will explore trading lefthanded specialist Randy Choate during the offseason. So there are subtractions to come, if not more additions.






C - Y. Molina


OF - P. Bourjos


RHP - A. Wainwright


LHP - R. Choate


1B - M. Adams


IF - D. Descalso


LHP - J. Garcia


RHP - J. Walden


2B - K. Wong


C - T. Cruz


RHP - J. Lackey


RHP - T. Rosenthal


3B - M. Carpenter


IF - P. Kozma


RHP - L. Lynn


RHP - S. Maness


SS - J. Peralta


OF - S. Robinson


RHP - M. Wacha


LHP - M. Gonzales


LF - M. Holliday


OF - R. Grichuk


RHP - C. Martinez


LHP - K. Siegrist


CF - J. Jay


IF - D. Anna


RHP - S. Tuivailala


RF - J. Heyward










Note: The original version of this matrix did not have Anna, because his salary has not been released. The matrix has been updated to reflect this.